After 48 hours in the hospital, “mom and dad” were discharged, and thankfully, following a couple of days in the NICU, baby was given the green light to come home with us.
My husband and I are new to the whole parenting thing. During the first night home, we didn’t want to take our eyes off of her. If she moved too much or too little, it was a reason for alarm in our book. We jumped out of bed at every coo and cry. Pooping? Dreaming? …Dying!? We didn’t know, but it panicked us nonetheless.
Fast-forward a day or two: Lack of zzz’s was getting the best of me, so my husband offered to take the night shift. After what felt like blinking, I got a gentle nudge to the shoulder from my guy, and a not so gentle jolt from my alarm around 5 am. It was time to swap. As my husband left the nursery, I began rocking the little life that we created.
In the stillness of the early morning, the sun was yet to rise, but I couldn’t say the same for my emotions. Heavy tears immediately drenched my face—partly because I had never experienced a love so great, and partly because I was feeling overwhelmingly under qualified for the job of “mom” at that moment. I found myself longing to do everything right for my daughter, while simultaneously brimming with fear at the thought of doing anything wrong.
My hormones were raging, I was exhausted in every sense of the word, feeling the postpartum aches and pains, and on top of it all, I couldn’t get her to latch. She began to really fuss. “Baby, are you hungry? Tired? Gassy? Do you want to be held? Rocked? Swaddled? Adopted?! What?”
As she cried and I cried, I began to ask myself, “What now?” My life had changed forever in an instant, and that was both awesome and a little scary. But truthfully, I too, had changed forever. I was still me, but certainly not the same me. I had a new and sacred name to embrace, called “mom.”
With the recent arrival of extreme sleep deprivation, wild hormonal fluxes, and bouts of loneliness and insecurity, it became extraordinarily easy to feel inadequate. I began to convince myself that I was failing in one department or the other. But if you’re like me—new to motherhood—do your heart a favor, and show yourself some much-needed grace. The capacity to mother well is fiercely and innately within you. Whether biological or not, you were made to be your child’s mom and no one else can be that for your baby.
During the first few months, it may seem overwhelming. You may have moments where you’re left feeling breathless. You might find yourself calling the Pediatrician weekly with questions, or “googling” your every concern, but take heart—you will learn, you will manage, and you will thrive because that’s what moms do.
That’s what you do.
While motherhood feels remarkably second nature, it also comes with a serious learning curve and a whole lot of “what nows” to navigate. When you can’t get baby to stop crying—what now? When your milk supply doesn’t come in as strongly as you’d hoped—what now? When you experience your first poop explosion—what now? At some point, you’re going to utter those words or at the very least, think them, and when you do, remind yourself that you can totally do this. We may not know it all right away or do everything flawlessly, but that’s OK. There is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one.
So— “what now,” new momma?
Now—you will love like you’ve never loved. Now, you will protect like you’ve never protected. Now, you will pray like you’ve never prayed.
Congratulations— this is motherhood.